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Shiffrin Looks Ahead To Kronplatz Giant Slalom Races

by Brian Pinelli

Mikaela Shiffrin competes during the women's downhill at the FIS Alpine Ski World Cup on Jan. 20, 2023 in Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy.

 

Mikaela Shiffrin remains tied with Lindsey Vonn atop the all-time women’s World Cup victories table, both with 82, following three ‘speed races’ in Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy. 
It will be a quick transition from the long boards to the giant slalom skis for Shiffrin – something that the versatile ski racer is well accustomed to – as her next two opportunities to break the record will come in giant slalom races, Tuesday and Wednesday, in nearby Kronplatz.
Shiffrin continues to hone her downhill racing skills, in the discipline that she trains the least for. The Colorado racer flirted with victory number 83 across two downhills and one super-G race at the sunny Italian Dolomites resort clocking fast split times on the upper sections of the Olympia delle Tofane piste. However, she finished seventh in Sunday’s super-G, following seventh and fourth place downhill results over the previous days.
“Yesterday everybody was saying you’re so close to the podium, (I was) kind of like so sorry, that was close, but I don’t feel a lot of disappointment” Shiffrin said, referring to Saturday’s downhill, in which she was just .05 seconds away from a top three finish.
“I’ve been on the right side of the hundredths many, many times in my career – I’ve had luck and I’ve also had some bad luck.
“I have to be realistic with expectations and do the best I can,” Shiffrin continued. “The only disappointment today was kind of messing up the last little bit, but every other section of the course, I hit the marks that I wanted to hit, so I’m actually quite satisfied.”
Shiffrin and teammates now travel to another Italian ski resort, Kronplatz in Northern Italy’s South Tyrol region, roughly 55 kilometers northwest from Cortina. The 27-year-old phenom will have her next two opportunities to attain the record outright in a pair of GS races, Tuesday and Wednesday.
Based upon previous success at the venue, one has to like her chances. Shiffrin sped to a GS victory on the demanding Kronplatz ‘Erta’ race hill by a staggering 1.21 seconds in January 2019.
“I remember how it felt to ski fast there, but I also think the level of GS skiing is even different now from what it was that year, so I need to be aggressive and on the right timing because if I’m not, I won’t win for sure,” Shiffrin said. “I have the chance to ski it well, so I’ll focus on that.”
Shiffrin has competed on the Kronplatz race hill five times over her illustrious career. In addition to the decisive 2019 victory, she has finished fourth, fifth twice and in 2018, the consistent skier uncharacteristically crashed out in her first run.
“It’s a difficult, very challenging hill – I know how to ski it fast, but I also know that it will be difficult to nail the timing after being on long skis,” Shiffrin said about the Erta course, one of the steepest GS hills on tour. “The timing on that hill is difficult, so I’ll need to make the adjustment very quickly and I’m not sure if I can, but I will try.”
Encouragement from U.S. teammates and fellow racers
When Shiffrin steps into the start gate on Tuesday morning, it will be her fifth attempt at career victory number 83. Prior to three races in Cortina, Shiffrin finished second in a night slalom in Flachau, Austria, on January 10. She equaled Vonn’s mark with a giant slalom win in Kranjska Gora, Slovenia, on January 8.
Shiffrin’s U.S. teammates and foreign opponents have been highly supportive, heaping well-deserved praise as she inches closer to ‘Goat’ status.
“I’ve learned so much from Mikaela and we really just feed off each other,” said Isabella Wright, who was second in a Cortina training run and continues to display great promise. “She has so much wisdom and can teach me so much.”
“Mikaela Shiffrin is the most legendary skier that we have right now – it’s cool being able to ski in her era,” said Norwegian Ragnhild Mohwinckel, who won Sunday’s super-G in Cortina. 
“The numbers speak for themselves – she’s an amazing skier, the best ever probably,” said Kira Weidle, Germany’s best downhiller.
Shiffrin’s teammate Breezy Johnson has competed alongside her on World Cup since December 2016.
“It was super exciting to be part of Lindsey’s career and super exciting to part of this moment (with Mikaela) and I wish her all the best, but I think in many ways they’re both already the greatest of all-time in their owns ways and rights. I’m definitely excited to see her get the monkey off her back at some point.”
Stifel U.S. Ski Team women’s alpine head coach Paul Kristofic emphasized the magnitude and impact of both Shiffrin and Vonn’s numerous accomplishments in the sport.
“To have the most winning racers in history, it’s actually hard to put words to how big that is,” Kristofic said. “When you actually look at their number of podiums and wins it’s kind of mind-boggling. Most racers just dream to win a couple of World Cups. 
“Our hope absolutely is that it inspires young athletes to see that it’s definitely possible through hard work and dedication.
“It’s cool because they’re really paving a new path that’s never been done before and that’s something truly special in any sport,” he said.
While most of the talk has been about Shiffrin passing Vonn with victory No. 83, Mikaela is also in pole position to move past Lindsey with a fifth overall title this season. Shiffrin leaves Cortina with 122 valuable World Cup points, increasing her season tally to 1,317. She leads nearest challenger Petra Vlhova by 521 points after 24 of 39 races.


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